Cuban chess is in check

Por: Nelson de la Rosa

Ajedrez cubano en jaque

The last days of Cuban chess are marked by the absence of our best players in the national shortlist. This has led to a decline in results, especially those achieved by the manly team at the most recent edition of the World Olympics held in Batumi, Georgia, during September and October 2018.
In the fair they were ranked 61st, the worst of all time, while the women’s team finished in the 27th.
The top three Cuban players of recent years, GrandMasters Leinier Dominguez, Lazarus Bruzón and Yunieski Quesada did not participate for various reasons. In Leinier’s case he already officially represents the United States Chess Federation.

For their part, Bruzón and Quesada remain affiliated with the Cuban Federation, but are not part of the national team and reside in the United States, where they train, play and study university careers. Both players make up the payroll of the Webster University team participating in the calendar for the 2018-2019 season.
I mention these three players because they are the best known and belong to an even winning generation of World Championships (Bruzón was monarch of the orb between juveniles and Leinier, among so many triumphs, proved universal starter of quick games), but there are many more.

Leinier Domínguez
Leinier Domínguez

Therefore, these are not isolated cases. Rather, it becomes a trend and we should look for the causes, the reasons that they had, and that are surely the same ones that argue those that in recent weeks have also added to the experience of becoming better players in other countries where they find more development opportunities.
Bruzón’s case included a “tell me what I’ll tell you” with the Cuban Federation. Everything suggests that the player came out angry and even his Public Charter on social media could not be challenged and became less than “viral”, because his personal reasons are added those that are repeated in many, I would say in most of the players of the island.
However, not only did the tunero speak out (and I think he did it “chopped” by a statement from the Cuban Federation, because that’s not his style), but recently they did so among others, GM Yuniesky Quesada.
The natural player of Santa Clara posted on his Facebook wall a message that I quote verbatim: “In addition to injustices that have done me throughout my career, even being the third player in the country since 2008, I felt un motivationless in recent years.” He had previously referred to ina attention and training difficulties.
At another point he said, “Now I feel like I can keep improving my chess. Here in college we have a very strong team and there is a lot of professionalism in training, which helps to continue to rise the chess level. I also have aspirations to make a career.”
Just a few days earlier MF Alejandro Yanes said that after long hours of talks with trebejistas from the island and others residing abroad, he acquired enough elements to draft a text with nine points that he said summarizes the complaints of Cuban chess players.
Incredibly the one that is repeated the most is the need to access the Internet, an essential tool today, if you want to have adequate preparation to face tournaments both in Cuba and abroad.
Although the books of the “classics” still remain in force and constitute invaluable reference material, it is in cyberspace that chess players access the most complete databases related to tournaments, players, games, color of the pieces and the most diverse variants of openings, defenses and game endings, just by giving a few guidelines.
To all this it is added that tournaments are played daily over the Internet no matter where the players are, only with an access, with the right speed, to the network.
As a means of communication it is also essential to know the competencies that are convened, the forms of registration (most of the time through online forms), contact with the organizers, etc.
For chess players, internet access is like for the players the need for bats, gloves and balls, such as for footballers, for runners the kilometers on the track and for swimmers the water and the pool.
I understand that our country takes steps in Internet access and we all know the limitations that exist, but I also know that there are many citizens who access an excellent connection speed and without restriction of hours in the month and even for free, and the worst sometimes only to exchange on social networks. Why not open a space also to chess players, who will also give it proper use?
Yanes himself adds that our National Championships are irregular in their structure, which is changed frequently, often with the aim of favoring such or more as trebejista.
The document also includes the desire that all members of the Cuban Chess Federation have the right “to play for their country in Cuban and foreign events” and that the organization has an obligation to claim its titles with fiDE, even if they are abroad. Just by setting an example, Viswanatan Anand has been living in Spain for years and has never stopped representing India.
Later it also refers to the organization of international tournaments on the island, especially capablanca, where even many Cubans with an international master’s degree do not have accommodation.
The truth is that Cuban chess continues to lose and with it the fans. At least in the country there is no longer healthy competition between Leinier Dominguez and Lazarus Bruzón.

Lázaro Bruzón
Lázaro Bruzón

I don’t want to make comparisons, but I’m sure there was never a greater rivalry in Cuba, given also because they are two world-class players who made a career in parallel (Bruzón was born in 1982 and Leinier in 1983) since the National School Games, almost at the same time they toured the levels of FIDE Master, International Master and GrandMaster and together they rubbed shoulders (and rub shoulders) with the best in the world.
It seems that both will no longer be cheering our National Championships or capablanca and at the moment, there is no glimpse on the horizon of a trebejista who can follow in his footsteps. Perhaps the most talented is the young Camagueyan Carlos Daniel Albornoz, but if they do not provide him with all the necessary conditions, his path will be very rough to be included in the ELITE, exceed 2,600 points of Elo and approach strongly at 2 700.
To get an idea, the update of elo’s Cuban ranking in February, including all Cubans residing on the island or not, was as follows:

ELO ajedrecistas cubanos
ELO Cuban chess players

Of this group reside only in Cuba Yusnel Bacallao, Carlos Albornoz, Yuri González and Lelys Martínez, because Bruzón and Quesada although they still appear on the lists with the Cuban flag, reside in the United States, whose Federation officially belongs Leinier Domínguez and Fidel Corrales. Neurys Delgado, for his part, competes for Paraguay and Reinier Vázquez for Spain.
And I say more, more than a hundred players are currently outside Cuba, including fifteen GrandMasters and at least seventeen International Masters. Of that group there are more than forty that do not exceed forty years.
The situation in the female branch does not reach such magnitude, but it also has similar cases; we’ll talk about them in other editions.
I believe that the Cuban Chess Federation and the Directorate of INDER must find the solutions to meet the needs of our trebejistas (I do not think it is very complicated), otherwise the boys who today train in primary schools, who are talents trained in our country, on the return of the years could also take the way out. Ω

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